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Is this ok?

The following comment went up on the blog today:

We did a cash mob at an art gallery and a restaurant on March 23rd. I work for a non profit and the art gallery and restaurant were supposed to give us a percentage of their sales from that hour. Notice the word “supposed” to because we never saw a single penny. It’s very disappointing because the owner of the art gallery was (and I emphasize WAS) a friend of mine. She made me look bad to my boss and co-workers. We got coverage on 2 TV stations and the local paper too. So be very careful if you are a non profit and set up this kind of deal with a store or restaurant.

Question: should a Cash Mob be organized with the expectation of financial gain in return?  What if it is in exchange for a donation to charity?

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9 Comments

  1. Yikes… I think that defeats the purpose of the goodwill that the cash mob creates. Our cash mobs are run by my non-profit organization, West Michigan Jobs Group, but there is no way we would expect any kind of cut or donation or anything. That just seems to create bad blood for all parties involved. But that’s just my two cents.

  2. Kingtycoon says:

    I’m not going to say you shouldn’t try and get paid by the cash mob- but I tell you this – if you’re into the proprietor for money you should probably anticipate not getting paid. Why should they? If you operate purely out of altruism and care for your community you’ll not be disappointed, but if hope to be compensated – you’re likely to be left hoping.

    Cash up front. If Cash-Mobs are to be a promotional event that even warrants compensation – you’d best get paid ahead of time or get something in writing.

    I can see the arguments against moneymaking – it’s a wide open territory and the heart tends to crave what’s pure – but if you’re well liked and can organize a spending spree – why shouldn’t you likewise expect some recompense for your efforts? It’s a lot like a band – they might bring a lot of business to a bar – but the bar won’t pay them unless they have to.

    Act from the goodness of your heart or get it in writing – those are the two ways, the only two ways to transact business.

  3. JMD says:

    I think it goes against the spirit of the whole cash mob idea.
    If you want to have a charity drive at a business where they give a portion to you, that’s cool and tons of places do that all the time.
    The cash mob is supposed to be a way YOU help the local business, not a way for to get a local business to help YOU.

  4. I don’t like the idea of a non-profit using you for a percentage. It undermines your goal.

  5. that’s a shame. i would never expect anything in return, but if you had an agreement that the non-profit was supposed to get a cut, it’s a shame they didn’t hold up their end of the deal. Did you sign a contract or anything like that?

  6. Biz Net says:

    I disagree with compensation as well. We run our cash mobs only on Fridays @smallbizfridays and we do not ask any of our businesses for compensation. We only ask that they become a part of our network (for free) and connect with other small business owners. See our rules here bit.ly/LdKiq9.

  7. sandsurfer says:

    I am new to the cash mob, goodwill concept and ran across this blog researching. I do own a retail store and have done non-profit charity events at my store and donated % to the non-profits. It works well, as long as everything is up front, % of amount to be donated and how that percentage is to be calculated (besides cost of inventory, there may be increased employee costs, food/entertainment expenses, insurance, electricity, etc) if it is during normal business hours then you need to be able to track purchases from people not participating in the even, etc. As a business owner there are things that I would or could not agree to, no matter what is promised. If you are upfront, then you are being careful, hopefully next time you will get it in writing, then you won’t look bad to your boss. Did the restaurant donate food for the event, or did you not see a penny from them either? If not, perhaps you could have been a bit too vague about your expectations? In any case, there should be some sort of token donation by the business owner if she agreed to donate. And you should be very proud of the coverage you were able to get for the businesses and the money you generated. Very well done!

  8. Stu Kirsch says:

    First, this is a business deal with a friend gone bad. The poster, a lower- or mid-level employee of a non-profit, perhaps should have had his/her boss confirm the business arrangement with the friend/art gallery owner.

    As for the question of sponsoring organizations, maybe I am just a purist. “Cash Mob” is grassroots. “Cash Mob” uses democratic ideals and social media capital. I appreciate the creativity of the poster to earn revenues for a non-profit by juxtaposing a cash mob to a charity hour, but I fear that the effort dilutes the phenomenon. When professionals and organizations take over the impetus and the communication, it becomes something not democratic and not grassroots. Sliding down that slippery slope will make “Cash Mob” just another tool in a marketer’s toolbox. Will the public continue to be mobbers when the mobs are run by professional organizations?

    Compensating an individual or organization for running a mob similarly weakens the grassroots nature of the mob. Would I be opposed to accepting a gift of thanks form a business owner for a mob I helped organize, no. Would I expect one, no. But most of all, if mobs are supposed to be a one time shot in the arm for a local business, why would I want to dilute that by taking a cut of the proceeds? I’d prefer to see the business owner pay that forward to the next cash mob, to continue to support local business and the entire local economy.

    Do business organizations and chambers of commerce have a place at the table? Yes, and they can be especially valuable in explaining the concept to their members, and in getting not only local businesses but also their employees to participate. I have even seen non-mobbable businesses (insurance agents, banks, realtors, dance studios) join in the fun by offering tchotchkes (pens, notepads and other promotional items) to mobbers when they buy lunch or flowers. But however they participate, the association should be there to support the mob, the public, and the economy–not to run it or profit directly from it.

  9. A great deal of time and effort goes into organizing a cash mob and making it work. But the rewards I get out of it can’t be measured in cash. Earlier this week we held an event at a brand new local business. They were celebrating 1 month in business the day of the hit. We brought more than 50 new customers through their front door and most of them will be return guests.

    Having said that, we’re doing it to help local businesses stay in business. We are not doing it for financial gain of any kind. I would not expect any kind of payment or even free samples from the businesses we visit and to do so would make us no better than the gangsters we imitate in name. Do it for love, do it to make new friends, do it because you care about your community and really want to make a difference. That’s reward enough!

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